New figures released by the government show that the UK has cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to meet its first carbon budget.
However, the latest official data also suggests CO2 emissions are on the rise again as the UK recovers from recession.
According to the final figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the UK emitted 2,987.1 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for the first carbon budget period between 2008 and 2012.
The Climate Change Act required the UK to emit no more than 3,018 MtCO2e in the five-year period.
However, ministers have also admitted that much of the fall in carbon emissions can be attributed to the drop-off in manufacturing during the recession that began in 2008 and today’s data shows that emissions rose 4.4 per cent from 2011 to 2012 as homes turned up the gas to keep warm in a cold winter.
Secretary of State Edward Davey said: “We have reached an important milestone. The UK has met its first carbon budget, which is the first step in fulfilling our commitment to cut Britain’s emissions by 80 per cent to 2050.
“The increase in emissions in 2012, compared to 2011, is of course worrying – but it needs to be put in the context of higher gas costs that made coal a more attractive fuel for electricity generation, and an increase in residential gas use due a very cold winter.
“Green investment has been booming in the UK, with renewable electricity generation doubling and £31bn of renewable energy investment announced since 2010. Now with the Energy Act 2013, we can look forward not just to hitting our renewable targets for 2020, but beating them.”